Kunming Declaration refreshes global commitment to biodiversity

Updated: October 16, 2021 Source: Xinhuanet.com
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Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu (C) poses for a group photo with Elizabeth Maruma Mrema (R), executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and David Cooper, deputy executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, after the closing plenary of the High-Level Segment of the first part of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Oct. 13, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

With a bang of the gavel, the Kunming Declaration was adopted Wednesday in the provincial capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, providing new momentum for drawing the roadmap for biodiversity conservation in the coming decade.

The declaration is the main achievement of the first part of COP15, or the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and takes note of the meeting's theme of "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth."

Upon the adoption of the milestone document, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the CBD, said the declaration is "ambitious" and "points us in the right direction, with Parties committed to negotiating a post-2020 framework that is effective in bending the curve of biodiversity loss."

Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said the Kunming Declaration is the first political document to embody the ecological civilization philosophy within the framework of the UN multilateral environmental agreement.

"The Kunming Declaration will help us not just to generate ambition in the complex negotiations ahead but will help enormously in narrowing the action gap between climate and nature conservation," said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and chairperson of the Washington-based Global Environment Facility.

"We need a more integrated approach. COP15 and the Kunming Declaration will help us move the integration agenda," said Rodriguez, who served as Costa Rican minister for environment and energy for three terms.

"Compared with previous declarations regarding biodiversity, the Kunming Declaration is more in line with the objective requirements of post-2020 biodiversity conservation, especially in strengthening the sustainable use of biodiversity for meeting the needs of people as well as benefit-sharing," said Long Chunlin, an expert in ethnobiology and professor with the Minzu University of China, who attended COP15 and witnessed the adoption of the declaration.


With political impetus for and reinforced commitment to biodiversity conservation built at the Kunming conference, the world has embarked on a new journey toward the full realization of the CBD's 2050 Vision of "Living in Harmony with Nature," which is consistent with China's proposal of building a community of all life on Earth.

China set the tone of enhanced ambition for this journey by announcing the commitment of investing 1.5 billion yuan (about 233 million U.S. dollars) to establish the Kunming Biodiversity Fund in support of biodiversity protection in developing countries.

"The need to really drive negotiations toward an ambitious, implementable, trackable post-2020 biodiversity framework (is) with financing behind it," said Beate Trankmann, resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme in China.

The journey ahead is not necessarily one compromising economic prospects. China has justified a win-win outcome between environment and development. "Particularly by integrating efforts to advance ecological progress into the poverty eradication drive, we have kept our biodiversity intact, boosted the development of local communities and helped local residents increase their incomes and eliminate poverty," said vice minister Zhao.

"This goes to the original purpose of development, which is for people's wellbeing," said Zhang Yongsheng, head of the Research Institute for Eco-civilization, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Keeping biodiversity intact is inherently linked with many global issues including fulfilling the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and tackling climate change and cannot be achieved by a single country.

"We must work together and ensure that every country does its part," Mrema added.

Editor: Li Shimeng